For Dallas Cowboy fans, the prize of free agency is arguably Chicago DT, Henry Melton. Melton, coming off ACL reconstructive surgery sustained in week 3 of last season, is expected to be at or near full strength by training camp and is looking for a new deal.
Henry Melton made a name for himself in 2012 under coach Rod Marinelli where he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Playing the part of the 3-technique tackle, Melton was considered a quick penetrator who both stopped the run and rushed the passer.
Durability issues exist for the Fort Worth native, but when healthy, he’s a perfect fit for Marinelli’s defense. At 27 years old he is just entering his physical prime and should be able to return to Pro Bowl form even after the injury. It’s unknown exactly what kind of offers he will receive in free agency but the Bears appear ready to let him test the market.
Other potential landing spots for Melton are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Given the current cap space in Dallas, both other options seem most likely but Dallas isn’t necessarily out of the running. The impending release of Miles Austin (Designated June 1st Cut) would free up enough cash to cover 2014 draft picks so the money to sign a free agent of Melton’s caliber would require other roster moves.
What kind of offer Dallas gives will likely depend on the Demarcus Ware situation. Last week Jerry Jones contacted Ware’s agent and officially requested a renegotiated contract including a salary cut. Lips have been tight and it’s unknown what (if any) progress has been made.
If Ware is released, Dallas would have the money to push a deal with Melton. While Melton obviously plays a different position on the DL than Demarcus, filling the need at the 3-technique would help Dallas down the road come draft day.
If Ware agrees to a team-friendly pay-cut, it would be with the understanding Dallas would use the saved money to reinvest in a linemate for Ware. If Ware wins the negotiations and stays on the team with only a minor pay-cut, Dallas will probably only be able to give a low-ball offer to the DT and miss out on any realistic chance at acquiring a player like Melton.
We will be keeping an eye the Ware situation because how that is resolved will have a huge impact on everything else.
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